As we all begin to get caught up in the holiday spirit here in Wilton Manors, my attention keeps going back to the song playing on the radio, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” Originally produced back in 1984 in response to the tragic draught and starvation in Africa, the words have a much different meaning for me today.
“There's a world outside your window and it's a world of dread and fear” ring out with a reality that is hard to grasp. Outside our world of plenty here in Wilton Manors is an ever increasing right-wing attack that has not been seen since the Brownshirts started their campaign of hatred in Germany in the 1920’s. Demagogues such as Donald Trump, along with almost all the Republican presidential candidates, have based their campaigns on hatred, fear, racism, religious extremism, and an attack on women’s right to choose. Where will it end? Today it’s hard-working Mexican Americans, Muslims, and Planned Parenthood. Tomorrow it could be gays and lesbians. “Oh no,” you say. Well, I am sure that was the feeling of many Jews and gays living in Berlin during the 1920’s. We know the history, and what I am seeing today in the news, discussed openly by presidential candidates, debated in the media, and accepted by so many American voters frightens me far more than I have ever been.
All the game playing of the National Republican Party, with their talk of a brokered convention to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the nominee, will not change the reality of Trump’s popularity and those who support his call to criminalize large portions of our fellow citizens. Trump is not alone in the field of candidates. One notable standout for the LGBT community is Senator Ted Cruz, who boasts about the radical Christian leaders who have endorsed his campaign. Radicals such as Philip Benham, who likens Muslims and LGBT people to the devil, and Kevin Swanson, a pastor who believes LGBT people should be executed.
We are only a short step away from these demagogues gaining a majority of support. A terrorist attack on U.S. soil, a health scare similar to Ebola, a continued immigration crisis from war-torn Middle East, or some other major world event can put one of these extremist very close to gaining a victory in the next Presidential election.
So, while we busy ourselves hanging Christmas decorations, baking holiday goodies, and enjoying this special place we call Wilton Manors, it's also time we start paying much more attention to the world outside our windows! As we look to real community leaders standing against the onslaught of hatred and fear, I have to ask, where are the Log Cabin Republicans? What does this gay and lesbian Republican organization have to say about all the hatred? On a national level we hear a lackluster response from the Log Cabin President, stating that Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering our country is just as possible as a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. We need to hear a clear and loud response from our community against these extreme attacks on our freedoms and liberties. All in the LGBT community, including those who align themselves with the Republican Party, need to make it clear that hatred, racism, religious persecution and attacks on civil liberties will not be tolerated.
Bono’s verse, “Thank God it's them instead of you,” sounds way too selfish in today’s environment. We need to understand that “them” can easily become “us” and that we are not isolated from all the turmoil taking place in the world. We can still spread a smile of joy, spread our arms around the world, and enjoy the holiday season but it's also time to become united as a community and start fighting the rising tide of extremism right here in our own country.
Do not let those like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz become the Grinches who stole Christmas!
Why, because life’s just better than that! Happy Holidays!